A great reminder of what makes memoir work. It’s not the events per se, but why you are remembering these certain events. Figure out why the memories mean so much to you, and you may be on to something.
Debra Gwartney, author of Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love, has a valuable blog post up this week looking at “A Few Memoir Pitfalls.” Good reading to remind ourselves, and particularly useful for those of us who teach:
Here’s an excerpt. The full essay can be found here:
…The most skilled and engaging memoirists, to my way of reading, don’t dwell quite so much on what happened, but instead on the question that I feel is at the heart of memoir: why do I remember a particular episode (series of episodes) that way? Again, how is my version of the event (not the event itself) serving me and my sense of self?
What the reader doesn’t want, and can’t invest in, is a self-pitying narrator. The those bad people did this to good me mode of writing memoir gets tiresome in…
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